Hypothetical situation...

Posted on: Sat, 01/18/2003 - 9:57am
darthcleo's picture
Joined: 11/08/2000 - 09:00

I had a dream last night, the type of dreams that you "replay" with different endings each time. It was a bit weird, and I'm wondering how *you* would react if this situation were real.

You're alone at a restaurant having lunch and your child (who has PA) is *not* with you. Yet you have a spare epipen with you, just because you always have one in your purse/bag/whatever.

A few tables back, a guy suddenly gets up, gasping for air, and clutching his throat. He can't talk, his companions panick, they don't know what to do. The other patrons either gape at the unexpected
"entertainment", or move prudently back. A waiter yells to call 911, but no one moves. The guy collapses on the ground. A crowd forms around him. You don't have a cell phone to call 911. You notice the guy has fish on his plate. What do you do?

oh, and you have no medical training whatsoever, except that you have an epipen with you.

Posted on: Sat, 01/18/2003 - 10:01am
darthcleo's picture
Joined: 11/08/2000 - 09:00

Unfortunately for me, in all the versions of my dream, the guy ended up dying. Here's what I did.
1. The first dream, I didn't even think about the epipen. I did nothing at all. Shame on me.
2. Second, I thought about the epipen but I don't decide quickly enough. By the time I reach the guy, he's gone.
3. Third, I have the epipen in hand, and rush in. I administer the epipen. No change at all. He had a fishbone stuck in his throat and couldn't breathe. The doctor who was at the back of the room, having seen me administer medications assumes I'm a doctor too. A tracheotomy could have saved him, she could have done it, but my presence stopped her from doing it. I get sued by the family for having administered medication without a doctor's license.
I don't have a single happy ending... [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]

Posted on: Sat, 01/18/2003 - 12:28pm
Peg541's picture
Joined: 12/29/2002 - 09:00

I'd call 911 and be prepared to start CPR since I teach CPR at our Red Cross. I don't think I'd use my epipen though.
I doubt it would hurt the guy but the ramifications could be awful if someone later decided to make trouble.

Posted on: Sat, 01/18/2003 - 12:50pm
joeybeth's picture
Joined: 09/01/2006 - 09:00

wow! i don't know what i'd do but it reminds me of a story that once happened to us. we were eating in a restaurant in st louis when an older woman at the table next to us fell out of her chair and collapsed on the floor. as she was laying there my dad, who is a doctor, got up to go to her and a young girl pushed him out of the way and said, "out of the way sir, i'm a nursing student!" i just remember him trying to get to the woman and help her and the nursing student was so enthusiastic about helping that she wouldn't let him near her. in the end, my dad explained that he was a physician and got the woman stabilized until the ambulance arrived and took her away. he was really sensitive to the student and complimented her on her eagerness, and for helping him with the woman. the family was so happy that she hadn't died right there on the spot. she was having a mild heart attack or something so it was pretty serious. anyway, that story reminded me of your dream. thankfully, this one ended well. joey

Posted on: Sat, 01/18/2003 - 1:02pm
darthcleo's picture
Joined: 11/08/2000 - 09:00

Hi Peg..
In my dream, although I may not have stated it properly, you don't have easy access to a phone. No cell on you, and you have no idea where the phone is in the restaurant.
Also, when I meant no medical training, that including any CPR, although it's not strictly *medical* ...
Dreams are weird sometimes, but those were the rules this dream gave me.
Joey >
my first knowledge of food allergy was some 30 years ago, when a good friend of the family attended a doctors conference in another province, and one of the doctors there *died* by cross-contamination to fish. (allergy, not fishbone ) Not a single doctor in the place was able to save him. It made quite an impression on me when I heard the tale that one could die in such a "secure" environment.

Posted on: Sat, 01/18/2003 - 3:03pm
joeybeth's picture
Joined: 09/01/2006 - 09:00

how terrible that someone died while in the middle of a room full of doctors. what a strange twist of fate. i do remember once as a child we were boating on the river and we came upon a woman whose son was in anaphylaxis from a bee sting. we happened to have epinephrine on the boat for some reason (first aid kit??) which my dad administered and then we boated him to the nearest landing where the boy was taken away by ambulance and did well. that was my first time to see someone have a serious allergic reaction. i was so glad he turned out to be okay in the end. joey

Posted on: Sat, 01/18/2003 - 9:26pm
ACBaay's picture
Joined: 03/19/2002 - 09:00

Hi Darthcleo,
Well, I would think possible heart attack, fish bone stuck, or allergy. Could you tell by the symptoms whether it seemed like a stuck fish bone? I have also thought about "what if. . . " situations, and I had the epi-pen. The only way that I would use it on somebody is if I was absolutely certain that it was an anaphylactic reaction, they were wearing a medic alert bracelet for allergies, they could tell me that they were allergic and didn't have their epi, and that it was apparent that it was life or death at that point. There are some situations where the epi can harm an individual (during a heart attack, for instance), so that would be a concern. I also would be interested in hearing what the legal ramifications of this would be.

Posted on: Sun, 01/19/2003 - 3:32am
Sandra Y's picture
Joined: 08/22/2000 - 09:00

I would volunteer my epi pen only if I knew it was an allergic reaction.

Posted on: Sun, 01/19/2003 - 9:35am
AJSMAMA's picture
Joined: 06/12/2002 - 09:00

I have thought about this several times. I think I too would volunteer one of our pens to someone if it was an obvious allergic reaction.

Posted on: Sun, 01/19/2003 - 10:26am
darthcleo's picture
Joined: 11/08/2000 - 09:00

what if you had to administer it, cause the person is unable to? Would you still volunteer?
I have no idea what I would personally do. And I think I may not do the same thing in the States and in Canada, cause the laws are different, and I'm not too familiar with American laws pertaining to prescriptions.

Posted on: Sun, 01/19/2003 - 12:18pm
kelly01's picture
Joined: 03/19/2001 - 09:00

Hi Darthcleo:
Cool question. If the situation was as you describe it, and there was no access to a phone, etc...I would immediately give CPR, and if that seemed to make no difference and I remembered I had the EPI-Pen, and my gut told me that this person was dying, I think I would use it. (I know, there are probably people reading this post thinking to themselves....take that Epi away from that woman!). My reason is this: Epi's are not only used for allergic reactions. My doctor sort of explained to me that it was "catch all" type of medicine that restarts the system (he probably explained it much better). Sort of like jump-starting your car. The battery may be low for any number of reasons...but if you jumpstart it, you can get the car going again.
Again, I am not positive I would use it. I would have to go with my gut. I have given the Heimlich before (which I know is completely different). But I cannot stand around when I feel like something needs to be done. I would rather face the implications later than feel I just let someone die.
Take care,


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